Thursday, February 16, 2017

If I Chose the Oscar Nominees

It's Thursday, and I realized earlier today that in the five years since I brought back the blog, I've never once done something that almost every other Oscar blogger does every single year: lists out their nominees/winner in all major Oscar categories.  Part of the reason for this is the OVP, but to pretend I'm not ridiculously behind on that to the point where you're going to remember where I left off here is silly (I've got to get through at least three years in that project before we touch 2016, so I imagine this will be all fresh and new).  So, without further adieu, here are the films that I would nominate in all major Oscar categories.

(Note: It's not actually all categories.  I'm skipping Foreign Film, Documentary, and the Shorts because I don't see enough of those each year to make an informed decision).

Picture

Everybody Wants Some!!!
Jackie
A Monster Calls
Moonlight
Silence

Winner?: Moonlight-I think the best experience I've had in a theater since Boyhood.
Runner-Up: I think it'd be a close race between Jackie and EWS, but I'd lean toward the Linklater.

Director

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Pablo Larrain, Jackie
Richard Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!!!
Martin Scorsese, Silence
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Winner?: Jenkins, by a country mile.
Runner-Up: Linklater, who finds ways to make his movies so fully-felt, even upon repeat viewings.

Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Adam Driver, Paterson
Andrew Garfield, Silence
Logan Lerman, Indignation
Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight

Winner?: Affleck, provided I can get past the politics of that decision, is giving the best performance in his film and his category-possibly the best lead male performance in a few years.
Runner-Up: Rhodes, who finds a vulnerability that isn't always on the page.

Actress

Amy Adams, Arrival
Juliette Binoche, L'Attesa
Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Tilda Swinton, A Bigger Splash

Winner?: Portman, an actor I run hot-and-cold on but when she's on (Closer, Black Swan, and now Jackie), she's basically untouchable.
Runner-Up: Adams, who under-emotes so well that her big moments are that much stronger and more sincere.

Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Tyler Hoechlin, Everybody Wants Some!!!
Glen Powell, Everybody Wants Some!!!

Winner?: Ali, who finds a soul and a heart in a character that is only given moments to connect with the audience, but you feel him even as Chiron becomes an adult.
Runner-Up: Powell slightly over Hoechlin, if only because he steals more of the movie.

Supporting Actress

Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Dakota Johnson, A Bigger Splash
Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Winner?: Harris, who finds different depths of her character as we move across triptychs.
Runner-Up: Williams, probably, for that devastatingly effective late "can we have lunch?" scene...if not her, I'd be very happy with either of the Hidden Figures ladies.

Adapted Screenplay

Arrival
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Silence
Zootopia

Winner?: Moonlight, surely, with all of that wonderfully chosen dialogue.
Runner-Up: I think Lonergan's playwright's sensibility generally provides him with excellent moments in his movies.

Original Screenplay

Embrace of the Serpent
Everybody Wants Some!!!
Fences
From Afar
Jackie

Winner?: The dialogue and plotting of Everybody Wants Some!!! just worked miracles for me.  Though Linklater always does that to me lately.
Runner-Up: I'd probably go with Jackie, if only because of the odd twists it takes with a story you know by heart.

Animated Feature

Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
Zootopia

Winner?: Zootopia occasionally feels like it might be overrated and Moana might be underrated, but I genuinely loved both-I'm reserving judgment here until we get to the OVP as I haven't seen The Red Turtle or My Life as a Zucchini and I could see either sneaking into the finals.

Cinematography

Jackie
Knight of Cups
La La Land
Moonlight
Silence

Winner?: Moonlight, with its haunting changes in perspective and the subtle uses of color, particularly at night.
Runner-Up: Probably Knight of Cups-Malick movies used to be nominated by Oscar here as a default, and probably still should all things considered-this is still the height of beauty.

Costume

The Dressmaker
Everybody Wants Some!!!
Hail Caesar
Jackie
Silence

Winner?: Jackie, by a longshot-you can feel the stiffness of those pillbox hats and suits.
Runner-Up: The Dressmaker was all gaudy fun, and it's hard to argue that it's consistently gorgeous.

Film Editing

Arrival
Everybody Wants Some!!!
Jackie
Moonlight
The Witch

Winner?: Moonlight makes the most of its three-part plotting.
Runner-Up: Arrival finds fun uses for time and flashbacks in its film that don't feel particularly gimmicky (an accomplishment at this point).

Makeup & Hairstyling

Florence Foster Jenkins
Hail Caesar
Jackie
Silence
Sing Street

Winner?: Jackie-the way that they use subtle shifts in Portman's appearance to tell different story lines, but without leaning on it too heavily-subtle makeup and completely accurate hairstyling deserves its reward too.
Runner-Up: Silence finds ways to transform their characters, and the use of dirt and blood rarely feels painted on and more like something that actually happened through the rigors of shooting.

Production Design

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Jackie
Passengers
Silence
Zootopia

Winner?: Once again I go with Jackie, as the film's devotion to detail, particularly in recreating the White House, is spellbinding and marvelous.
Runner-Up: I adored the ledo-deck aesthetic of Passengers even if the actual movie itself was utter tripe.

Visual Effects

Arrival
Doctor Strange
Kubo and the Two Strings
A Monster Calls
Passengers

Winner?: Honestly there's not a film here that screams out "WINNER!" to me in big bold letters.  Probably Arrival, if we're being honest, even though most of it's been done before-it uses classy CGI, and I loved the lettering effects in particular.
Runner-Up: I liked the animation and the realism of A Monster Calls, even if the effects are less essential to the story than something like Doctor Strange or Passengers.

Original Score

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Jackie
A Monster Calls
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals

Winner?: Moonlight's theme haunts my dreams, and it's the one that is most likely going to be used i the future to recall the picture.
Runner-Up: Jackie-Mica Levi is that rare composer who can put her own personal stamp on the music while also creating something wholly original for the picture.

Original Song

"City of Stars," La La Land
"Drive It Like You Stole It," Sing Street
"How Far I'll Go," Moana
"Try Everything," Zootopia
"We Know the Way," Moana

Winner?: I'm a sucker for a Disney power ballad (and Lin-Manuel Miranda in general), so "How Far I'll Go."
Runner-Up: Shakira's anthem to believe in yourself shouldn't work so well, but it's aces.

Sound Mixing

Arrival
Jackie
Moonlight
Silence
The Witch

Winner?: Jackie, maybe?  Like VFX, I don't feel like anyone is completely knocking it out of the park here, but Jackie finds ways to make the tables have sounds, and I always like that attention to detail and the distinctive aural palette.
Runner-Up: Silence, which considering its title finds an appropriate balance to its sound.

Sound Editing

Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Winner?: Arrival, by a long-shot.  The aliens alone with that whooshing call are an effect that instantly recalls the film itself.
Runner-Up: I had a lot of problems with the movie itself, but Sound Editing wasn't really one of them, so I think I'd give the nod to Rogue One over Hacksaw Ridge.

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